Ted (voiced by MacFarlane) has settled down with his new wife Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth), though the same can’t be said of his single, best friend John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) following his divorce. But when the former pair want to have a baby, it transpires that in the eyes of the law, Ted is not considered a person, but a mere possession. So he attempts to prove his personhood in the court of law, hiring rookie, stoner lawyer Samantha Jackson (Amanda Seyfried) to fight in his corner.
Though there is the occasional joke that will have you in stitches, it’s still a shame to see a creative mind such as MacFarlane’s revisit characters rather than invent new ones. His various animated TV series give him the platform and opportunity to use the same character idiosyncrasies and reoccurring gags as a means of generating laughter – on the big screen, you can’t help but hope for something more unique. Instead what transpires is a typical stoner movie, with a plethora of cheap, easy jokes. Not to mention just how many of which are topical (even as recent as the incidents surrounding Charlie Hebdo, German Wings or even the Kardashians), which again feels more suited to the smaller screen. In a series you can ridicule contemporary issues and then merely move on to the next episode, but with a feature it needs to be more timeless, and Ted 2 could suffer from feeling dated in a year or two.
Another comedic device used throughout this sequel are the cameos, and sadly they’re indicative of a lack of originality. Similarly to the recent Anchorman sequel, or just the last decade of The Simpsons, it’s just throwing in famous people for a quick laugh, and distract us from the lack of real jokes. That being said, the Family Guy irreverence and surrealism is conveyed on screen, which is no easy task. There are some exaggerated jokes which feel as though they’ve been lifted right out of the show, such as when Ted is attempting to determine which of his wedding guests have taken cocaine – and we see one man on a skipping rope, who then punches someone and jumps straight through a glass window.
Though an entertaining feature, Ted 2 hasn’t got that same sense of innovation that came with the first, as the novelty of having a pot-smoking, foul-mouthed teddy bear has worn off somewhat. But, similarly to the first picture, nostalgia remains a key theme, almost as an antidote to Toy Story, as while Andy grows up and has to give his old toys away, John Bennett doesn’t grow up and keeps hanging out with his. It also works as an ode to those growing up in the 80s too, with the likes of Flash Gordon featuring, and we even enter into John Hughes territory too, with a comical nod towards Planes, Trains and Automobiles – which is one of many pop-culture references, appealing heavily to that very certain demographic who should have fun with this.
Nonetheless, the attempts to be satirical and tender are hit and miss. There’s a subtlety and intelligence to the way South Park ridicules real life, and uses absurd, overstated situations to make a profound point – but Ted 2, which attempts the same, using Ted’s experience as a means of highlighting how people are people, not other’s possessions – but it’s not quite implemented in a clever, compassionate way. Then again, this is Seth MacFarlane we’re talking about here – and let’s just say that compassion is not quite the word you’d use to describe his particular brand of comedy.